Matthew 27Pontius Pilate. Thus far Jesus had been in the hands of the Jewish authorities. In conquered countries, the native tribunals are generally preserved, though they are restricted to the exercise of subordinate functions. Thus the Sanhedrim, the great Jewish council, before which Jesus was first taken, though they had power to arrest and to try him, could inflict upon him only inferior punishments. The instance of Stephen, whose life was taken by a Jewish court, (Acts 6:12-7:60,) and some other cases, have led to a doubt whether the power to inflict capital punishments was absolutely and entirely taken away from the Jews. At any rate, the Jewish authorities seem to have considered that, in this case, the assent of the Roman governor, alone, could sanction crucifixion. (See John 18:31.)
It has been supposed that the consternation which Judas manifested when he saw the fruits of what he had done, proves that he did not anticipate these fatal consequences, when he conducted the officers to the retreat of the Savior. But this is by no means certain. It is the very nature of crime, that a deed should be undertaken deliberately, and with hardened unconcern, Which, when done, overwhelms the so with remorse and horror.
Jeremy. The only passage now extant in the the prophetical writings of the Old Testament, to which this allusion can refer, is found, not in Jeremiah, but in Zechariah. (Zech. 11:12, 13.) Many ingenious explanations of this difficulty have been offered by the learned, but they are merely conjectural.
Art thou the King, &c. They had changed the accusation. Pilate, they knew, would pay no attention to the charge of blasphemy which they had brought against Jesus before the Sanhedrim. They, therefore, changed the issue, and accused him now of treasonable designs against the Roman government. John (18:33-38) records the Savior's triumphant defence against this charge, by which defence Pilate was satisfied of his innocence.
Envy; envy of his popularity and religious influence among the people.
Whether of the twain; which of the two.
A tumult. Popular tumults were always greatly dreaded by Roman officers. They feared not only the danger which they themselves, personally, and their immediate administration, incurred, but also the displeasure of the imperial government at Rome, by which the rulers of the provinces were held to a very severe responsibility for the preservation of public order. Pilate, therefore, after resisting the popular animosity against Jesus, till he found himself upon the eve of a tumult, dared to go no farther, but yielded, though solemnly protesting against the injustice of the decision.
A scarlet robe; in mockery of his claims as king. One of the emblems of royalty among the Romans was a peculiar purple color, of a light and brilliant hue, and hence sometimes called scarlet. The word purple is used by Mark and John.
Simon; very probably known as a friend of Jesus. At first, Jesus himself bore the cross. (John 19:17.) Why they compelled this stranger to relieve him does not appear,—unless we suppose that Jesus was so exhausted with his sufferings, that he could bear the heavy burden no farther.
Mark says wine mingled with myrrh; but the difference is not material. Vinegar was wine in an advanced stage of fermentation.
They watched him; to prevent his being released by his friends.
He saved others; by his miracles of healing.
The ninth hour; about the middle of the afternoon.
Eli, &c.; Hebrew words.
Either misled by the sound, and not understanding the Hebrew tongue, or purposely misinterpreting his words, in derision.
When he had cried again with a loud voice; saying, "It is finished,"—a shout of exultation and victory, not the expiring cry of pain.—Yielded up the ghost; died.
The veil was rent; in token of the final abrogation of the sacred solemnities which that veil had concealed, by consummation of the great sacrifice for sin, which they had foreshadowed.
The holy city; Jerusalem.
Followed Jesus from Galilee; that is, had been his companions on his last journey to Jerusalem.
James. This was James surnamed the less.—Zebedee's children, James the greater and John. Their mother is called Salome, in Mark 15:40.
Joseph. He was a member of the council by which Jesus had been condemned; although he had himself opposed his condemnation. (Luke 23:50, 51.)
The other Mary; the mother of James and Joses.
This indicates that they had understood what Jesus meant, by the language recorded, (John 2:19,) on which they founded their false accusation of blasphemy. (Matt. 26:61.)
They little thought that by these precautions they were only taking measures for putting beyond question the reality of the subsequent resurrection.
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